John Lyly

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Lyly or Lilly, John

(both: lĭl`ē), 1554?–1606, English dramatist and prose writer. An accomplished courtier, he also served as a member of Parliament from 1589 to 1601. His Euphues, published in two parts (The Anatomy of Wit, 1578, and Euphues and His England, 1580), was an early example of the novel of manners and was one of the most influential works of its time. In it Lyly tried to establish an ideal of perfected prose style, which was actually convoluted and artificial (see euphuismeuphuism
, in English literature, a highly elaborate and artificial style that derived from the Euphues (1578) of John Lyly and that flourished in England in the 1580s.
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). His early plays, the most notable being Campaspe (1584) and Endimion (1591), followed Euphues in their elaborate style, but his later work, specifically Mother Bombie (1594), employed the realistic, robust manner of Roman comedy. His Woman in the Moon (1594?) was a a successful experiment in blank verse. Shakespeare and other Elizabethan playwrights were indebted to him for his innovation of prose as the vehicle for comic dialogue and for his development of the romantic comedy.


See his complete works edited by R. W. Bond (new ed. 1967); studies by G. K. Hunter (1962 and 1968) and P. Saccio (1970).

Lyly, John


Born in 1553 or 1554, in the county of Kent; died Nov. 27, 1606, in London. English writer. Son of a notary.

Lyly studied at Oxford and Cambridge. In his novels Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit (1579) and Euphues and His England (1580), Lyly created a literary style rich in rhetorical elements, tropes, and forms taken from ancient mythology or from Pliny’s Natural History. While the euphuistic style influenced Lyly’s contemporaries, including Shakespeare, its mannerism soon made it the object of parody. In such plays as Alexander and Campaspe (1584), Sapho and Phao (1584), and Galatea (1588; published anonymously in 1592), Lyly used motifs from Italian pastorales, transforming farcical clowns into servants, sailors, and woodsmen. Lyly was a direct predecessor of Shakespeare in high comedy.


The Complete Works, vols. 1–3. Edited by R. W. Bond. Oxford, 1902. In Russian translation: [“Iz ‘Evfuesa.’ “] Khrestomatiia po zapadno-evropeiskoi literature: Epokha Vozrozhdeniia. Moscow, 1947. Page 476.


Anikst, A. A. “Angliiskii teatr.” In Istoriia zapadno-evropeiskogo teatra, vol. 1. Moscow, 1956. Page 406.
Hunter, G. R. John Lyly: The Humanist as Courtier. Cambridge, Mass., 1962.
References in periodicals archive ?
Euphues is a didactic discourse on the dangers of romantic love but the Euphuistic style gets its name from the elevated and Latinate poetic diction attributed to John Lyly.
14) Hunter was thinking about John Lyly (grandson of the grammarian) in John Lyly: the Humanist as Courtier.
The study is designed 'to revise our idea of John Lyly as a specifically "courtly" dramatist' (p.
If the antithetic style of John Lyly in Euphues emphasizes ornamentation at the expense of mimesis, Sidney strikes a balance, using syllabic repetition specifically for ironic or paradoxical emphasis.
The chief character of John Lyly 's Euphues, The Anatomy of Wit (1579) and Euphues and His England (1580).
Andy Kesson, John Lyly and Early Modern Authorship (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011), 103-4.
On display are the monumentalizing ambitions of such writers (and/or, as Genette would have it, of their 'allies') as William Alexander, Thomas Carew, Samuel Daniel, George Gascoigne, the now obscure Robert Gomersall, Fulke Greville, Thomas Heywood, Ben Jonson, Thomas Killigrew, 'the onely Rare Poet of that Time, The Witie, Comicall, Facetiously-Quicke and vparaieild' John Lyly, John Marston, Thomas Middleton, Thomas Newman, Thomas Norton, Thomas Randolph, John Tatham, the various translators of Seneca, Sir Philip Sidney, and, of course, William Shakespeare.
9) John Lyly, Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit, in Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit andEuphues and His England, ed.
Devoting a page or two each to John Lyly, Robert Greene, Thomas Lodge, George Peele, Thomas Nashe, and Thomas Kyd, he takes the rest of the chapter to write in detail about the most influential playwright in London at the time: Christopher Marlowe.
Agapiou's fluency in classical as well as French and English texts suits her well for examining this myth, made palpably accessible in the anglophone world by the Renaissance playwright John Lyly, whose play diagnoses a full-blown case of lunacy.
Playwrights considered are Samuel Daniel, John Fletcher, John Ford, Thomas Heywood, John Lyly, Philip Massinger, John Webster, Ben Johnson, and William Shakespeare.
John Lyly is the most famous of the many now unread and unperformed dramatists of the Elizabethan period.